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Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Gulftide'

Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Gulftide’

During the winter months evergreen trees and shrubs come to the fore in the garden as they provide a fantastic backbone and structure to a planting scheme when many other plants are dormant or deciduous species have lost their leaves.

Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Gulftide’ is an evergreen shrub with small, spiny, dark green foliage, similar to a holly, and small fragrant flowers in late autumn. 

At Hyde Hall you can find this species in a mixed border in the Queen Mother’s Garden where it provides fragrance and structure and as a compact cultivar it is very useful for a wide variety of planting schemes, particularly for the smaller garden.

Vital statistics

Common name
Holly olive, Chinese holly, false holly
Height & spread
2.5m (8ft) x 3m (10ft)
Evergreen shrub
Fertile, well-drained, preferably neutral to acid but some lime is tolerated
Sun or partial shade
Fully hardy


This is a genus of about 30 species from woodland in Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the south USA. The leaves are lance shaped to ovate, borne in opposite pairs. It bears small white, (occasionally yellow or orange) tubular, four-lobed flowers, which are usually fragrant, and are produced in mainly axillary clusters or terminal panicles.

The flowers are usually followed by ovoid, blue-black fruits.

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Gulftide'

This is a dense, rounded, compact shrub with holly-like, very spiny oval to elliptic-oblong, sharply toothed, leathery, glossy, dark green leaves, to 6cm (2.5in). Tubular, fragrant white flowers with lobes to 5mm (0.25in) across, are produced in small, axillary clusters from late summer to autumn, followed by ovoid, blue black fruit to 1cm (0.5in) long. This species is native to Japan and Taiwan.

It is a fantastic all rounder. Grown primarily for their richly fragrant flowers (borne even on quite young specimens), this evergreen is also valuable for its glossy green foliage. It makes a dignified specimen in the shrub border or you can use it as a backdrop for bulbs and perennials. Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Gulftide’ is also useful for hedging.


  • Grow Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Gulftide’ in sun or partial shade, with shelter from cold, drying winds.
  • In mid- or late spring, lightly trim or prune back shoots that spoil symmetry. All Osmanthus will tolerate hard pruning if required. For early flowering species lightly trim or prune back after flowering.
  • It is susceptible to scale insect.


  • Sow in containers in a cold frame as soon as ripe.
  • Root semi-ripe cuttings in summer with bottom heat.
  • Layer in autumn or spring.


The RHS Woody Plant Committee awarded Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Gulftide’an Award of Garden Merit and described it as follows:

"Dense medium-sized evergreen shrub with ovate, strongly spiny, dark green leaves up to 5cm long. Small, fragrant white flowers in clusters, occasionally followed by blue-black berries."

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